I am a percussionist, composer, and educator specializing in African and jazz music. I have been performing and teaching in the New York area for the last two decades. I feel deeply connected to many musical genres, which I have explored passionately at different times in my life. In my work I seek to combine these varied styles to create new paths of expression. From Afro-Cuban to West African to Jazz, my influences color my compositions in a dynamic way and provide a structure and narrative for the pieces. My discovery of the balafon, a wooden xylophone integral to the music of Guinea, West Africa, was a profound pivotal moment in my musical development. After years of exploring the vast depth of this tradition I have sought to develop a new compositional voice that uses the language of the balafon to honor the past and forge ahead with new sounds. My compositions are cross-cultural explorations of hope, reflection, and community and my goal is that listeners will relate to them on both an emotional and intellectual level.
Andy started his formal musical training in 1990 as a Percussion Performance Major at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. While there he studied with Ron Keezer and placed an emphasis on drum set and jazz. Arriving in Connecticut in 1997, Andy continued to perform, record, and apprentice with Scott Hanna- percussionist, teacher, and founder of Rhythm Exchange World Music Ensemble. In the spring of that year, he moved to New York and began formal studies on the balafon with master Guinean musician Abou Sylla and Hatian/Cuban music with drummer John Amira. Andy has also studied with several other master musicians from West Africa, including balafonist Famoro Dioubate and guitarist Mamady Kouyate.
Teaching Artist Experience
Andy was inspired to become a teaching artist after having numerous rewarding experiences as a performer and private music instructor over the years. He developed the desire to share the profound connection inherent in playing music with others, and he aims to help illuminate the exciting world of percussion for people of all ages and backgrounds. Andy has been a teaching artist for the last two decades and leads classes, workshops and residencies in schools, libraries, health care centers and other institutions in New York and the surrounding region. Since 2007 Andy has been a music instructor at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY, where he leads classes in modern West African ensemble styles and traditional African Percussion. Previously, he taught private lessons, co-led workshops, and directed a lab big band while an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. He has been committed to supporting arts education for over 20 years.